The Groundsman

March 2013

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32 GET INTO GROUNDS the Groundsman March 2013 Setting new standards at Medway Volunteer groundsmen Gerald Farrow and Mel Collins have transformed the standard of Medway RFC's rugby pitches – with a little help from the Institute of Groundsmanship and the Rugby Football Union plus a lot of hard work and enthusiasm Author: Colin Hoskins ot many modern-day groundsmen would expect to use a 15-inch Flymo to cut four rugby pitches – but that's what Gerald Farrow did when he took over as groundsman at Medway Rugby Football Club. "We lease the four rugby pitches and the clubhouse from the local council and all the pitches (rugby and football) were being maintained by the council," explains Gerald. "The rugby club was, however, becoming frustrated by the poor quality of the pitches so, in conversation with the club secretary, I suggested we would be better off if we looked after the rugby pitches ourselves. N "Not surprisingly, the council welcomed that suggestion – it left them to look after just the football pitches and associated changing rooms - but we had no equipment and we were confronted with pitches that had the odd thistle and stinging nettle growing through. I went home to fetch my Flymo, and it used to take me two days to cut the pitches." Today, eight years later, the club's pitches at the Priestfields Recreation Ground in Rochester, Kent, are much sought-after and "it seems everyone in the league wants to play here now", comments Gerald. Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions On-job learning With no experience of groundsmanship but with abundance enthusiasm, as club members and former players, professional bus driver Gerald and fellow groundsman Mel Collins, a retired exengineer, opened a copy of Yellow Pages to find a local company to help them eliminate the weeds. "I knew I had to get professional advice if we were to make a go of things, so I went online and found the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) - just what I needed – joined and signed up for an IOG one-day Foundation course at Sevenoaks Rugby Club."

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